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Emerald City Feels Like Game of Thrones’ Plagiarizing Twin

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Emerald City opens as all timeless tales of wonder do, with a woman covered in blood and carrying a backpack full of baby emerging from a cornfield. It has all the room in the world to continue burning your expectations, so buckle right the fuck up.

Tale as Old as Time

Emerald City is NBC’s new drama (?) based on the Wizard of Oz that has risen to take the throne of the currently crumbling (or at least expiring) empire that is Game of Thrones. Unfortunately, it only seems to know the general vicinity that throne was in. It has literally no idea what it is doing besides its tone. I guess the best term for it is a gritty re-imagining, but I feel like that’s giving them more credit than they are due for understanding the source material. Or at the very least understanding the audiences’ understanding of the source material. Notable edgy differences include drone technology, crucifixion, and whorehouses. I’m not going to lie, I had to open up a bottle of alcohol to get through this.

The premiere opens with a woman wondering out of a cornfield with a baby in a backpack, speckled with blood. She approaches a farmhouse and rings the doorbell until the family opens up. She then proceeds to say things to them that are unintelligible, but somehow conclude with her passing ownership of a child on to them. I guess they always really wanted one, and this was quicker than adoption. I’m not in the market for a child, so who am I to judge?

The show immediately jump cuts to 2o years later. The family in this farmhouse has managed to construct a barn, on top of the cost of raising a child. The child is revealed to be Dorothy Gale, who has some strange dot birthmark on her hand. She works as a nurse at what I thought was an old folks home, but is so shiny and new looking that I believe I’m supposed to think it’s a hospital. It has more than one floor, and I know that’s a big no-no with old people because stairs can be hard, so I’m going to assume it’s a hospital. Dorothy has a conversation with a doctor that amounts to “I wish we could get to know each other,” deftly countered with “I only got time to fuck.” I bet you will never guess who says what. I doubt it will ever matter. Dorothy also steals some prescribed medication from an old woman under the guise of offering to help her clean up nail polish. Our hero, ladies and gentlemen.

The scene progresses to Dorothy back home at her family’s farm, chatting with her mother in English and her father in Spanish. Her father is sick with something, so that’s why she stole that medication from the hospital. Why she couldn’t afford the medication on a nurse’s salary while still living at home is beyond me, but I’m no economist. I also am starting to develop a severe sense of dread that getting hung up on the details now is going to be the death of me later.

Dorothy bonds with her mother, and talks about how she’s been low-key stalking her real mom who lives in a trailer park in town. Adopted mom suggests Dorothy go talk to her biological mom. Dorothy complains that she can’t because she “wish[es] [she] was more.” I would kill to have a nurse’s salary right now—their unions kick ass. But whatever. Dorothy gets herself hyped up enough to go finally confront her real mom after twenty years, despite her apparently living down the street in a trailer park.

She walks outside and sees a giant storm on the horizon. And then, and this is the most absurd part of the episode to me, a woman who has grown up in tornado country for her entire fucking life hops in her truck to go do a task she could easily accomplish tomorrow. After looking at a giant storm on the horizon. I lived in Kansas in high school, and I spent the night at friends’ houses just because the wind was a little too indicative of tornado weather. This is a bullshit moment. Go back inside Dorothy, have you never seen Twister?

This is required school curriculum in Kansas

Dorothy arrives at her mother’s trailer park house to find the door blown open. Also, there’s a dead body inside, but the show doesn’t seem to give much of a shit about it, so neither will I. Dorothy runs into the tornado shelter next to the mobile home to tend to her slightly injured mother. I now realize that I did not absorb this woman’s name, even though I think she’s supposed to be important…I hope I can be somewhat forgiven. Maybe they’ll mention her again in a future episode. Mom tells Dorothy not to trust the cops, but Dorothy runs out of the bunker to ask the cops for help anyway.

Cops are a respectable breed, I honestly think, especially in small towns where they know almost everyone. Since this takes place in a town of 393 residents, I’m assuming the cops’ first instinct is not to pull their gun on someone who walks up to them loudly yelling for help. This being television, the authority figure deserving of trust in this scene will of course point his gun at Dorothy’s face while being completely oblivious to his surroundings. This allows a tornado to sneak up on him like it’s Jason Voorhees. What can I say, it happens to the best of us.

Long description short, Dorothy hops in the cop’s car, gets picked up by a tornado, and slams into the Wicked Witch of the East so hard it sets off her airbags. Also, there is a police dog in the backseat. That is not an important detail, because the show only wants that dog to exist for one joke. That joke is that “Toto” is the Munchkin word for “dog.” Har-har.

Dorothy manages to excavate herself from what I assume is a major concussion and pilfers the trunk of the car, finding a “Kansas Police” jacket (this is of course factually inaccurate; Kansas has no police) and a handgun properly stored in a first aid kit. She then sets off on a journey that I’m sure old fans and new will find engrossing.

Or not. She is immediately found by dirty children (who look a little like Wildlings) and decides that she’ll just follow their muttering asses wherever they should happen to lead her. In any other medium, this would be the opening murder scene before introducing the real protagonist.

Dorothy is instead lead to a Munchkin village. They’re called something else, but they’re goddamn Munchkins, fuck this show. Some of the Munchkins shout at her in a language I don’t understand for a while, and then one of them just ups and starts speaking English. This is not explained. That’s is a common thread throughout this episode. People will randomly speak what I assume are gibberish languages, and then someone else will just start speaking English.

The English speaking Wildling asks Dorothy if she’s a witch. You see, everyone knows only a witch can kill a witch, and they already found the Witch of the East’s body and put it on a big shrine in the middle of the village and started dancing around it. Dorothy has been here for what feels like fifteen minutes. No, I don’t understand how this was managed. Dorothy of course objects to being a witch. Cue hilarious waterboarding sequence (now with more torture racks made from skeletons).

The next scene pans in on the most Game of Thrones-looking CGI city I’ve ever fucking seen, to the point that I think Game of Thrones might have room to sue. We see Vincent D’Onofrio, who is better than this (I think? He did do Jurassic World…and Law & Order…but man, he was excellent in Daredevil) playing a random organ. He is the Wizard of Oz. Some woman stand behind him waiting to deliver bad news. He knows they’re there to deliver bad news, cause he read the script.

Apparently the flying monkeys in this iteration are going to be drones. Oh joy. They tell him that a drone picked up something falling out of the sky. He is upset by this and dispatches knights to find out what it was. These knights will be your filler for this 80 minute premiere. They will drain my goodwill more than anything else in this debut episode.

He gives me such mixed feelings

Dorothy is now being walked along the Yellow Brick Road by the Wildling who speaks English. Apparently the Yellow Brick Road is yellow because poppies fall on it, meaning you’re high just all the time you walk on it. My type of road. Mr. Wildling casually mentions that the village chose to exile her, but he wanted her executed. Thank goodness they decided to make him walk her to the border on the honor system. The “Beast Forever” is mentioned for what will not be the last time, but will be the only time they say it in a context that doesn’t make “Forever” seem like an adverb to the next word in the sentence. I’m assuming someone thought it was clever in the writer’s room. It’s actually asinine.

The Wicked Witch of the West is introduced in a sex scene, and then they double down on the sex=empowerment motif by having her get it on in a brothel that she runs. I’m not sure what they’re going for, but whatever. This show did not have enough material for a two hour premiere.

Dorothy is on her own traveling the Yellow Brick Road in the next scene, except for when Dog materializes in a shot to let you know he’s still a thing. She then comes across the highlight of the trailer, Sexy Jesus Scarecrow (SJS).

“Are you okay?”

I thought that was a bit heavy-handed in the trailer, but they also make a point to show that he was pierced in the side. In case you knew enough about the crucifixion story to get the gist, but still weren’t convinced.

“You okay?” is Dorothy’s first question. No, there’s still an hour of this, thanks for asking. I’m beginning to doubt Dorothy’s medical credentials. She helps Mr. Sexy Jesus Scarecrow down, and they proceed to create a sexual chemistry that’s almost unrivaled in the space of a two minute scene.

The knights of Oz are now questioning the Lollipop Guild. The Wildlings tell them about Dorothy being exiled, and but lie about the path she took for some reason. They also realize that their Witch of the East they were keeping in a closet has up and vanished when they stopped gloating over it. Cut to what I assume was supposed to be the stinger of a normal length episode—the Witch of the East glowering over Dorothy and SJS. She may not be dead, but she’s certainly fabulous.

The sexual tension between these two needs a chainsaw to get through, it’s so thick. They’re talking about nothing, sprinkled with “I try to avoid responsibility,” from the trained medical professional in the scene.

Then the Witch of the East proceeds to torture them until Dorothy tricks her into shooting herself in the face with a gun. Going off of the rule that only a witch can kill a witch, I’m assuming that gun attended Hogwarts. Based on the rapidity that Emerald City got rid of one of its only main POC, I’m starting to think that black female actors cost too much to employ somehow…Scandal must be bankrupting its studio.

So visually striking, she could never survive in the grimdark.

The big reveal of the next scene is that the Wizard of Oz is going bald. I think that’s supposed to be emasculating or something.

Dorothy, meanwhile, gets the Witch of the East’s gloves. They have rubies on them. They are also invisible. Her and SJS do not pick up the gun they just used to save their lives. But I think it’s supposed to be in their backpack still, because people don’t find it with the body of the Witch.

Exposition happens in Emerald City about magic being outlawed. Glinda and Elphaba are catty to each other because that is what women are supposed to do when they’re in the same room, I guess. They prepare to do funeral rites for their sister. They also insult each other about being older.

The knights of Oz get some more scenes. They are now just following Dorothy’s footsteps but saying less exposition. One of them mentions they should kill their captain. He doesn’t like walking, it’s safe to assume.

Dorothy and Scarecrow are walking more again, and the major injury of a stab wound in his side is starting to cause minor health problems. That is the rest of the episode for these two. Scarecrow being sick and Dorothy trying to help him. Some knock knock jokes are thrown in. It is all abysmal.

They find an apothecary. I have no idea what her name is. I don’t think it’s even mentioned. She offers to help them when she realizes Scarecrow is part of the Oz knights because of his sword. Apparently that is a bad thing. Sexy Jesus Scarecrow does not have his memories, so he does not know. The apothecary also keeps a boy locked up in a room with a key, but locks her house door with a magical thicket. This, of all things so far, bugs me. The boy’s name is Pip, or Tim, or Pim. His only friend won’t pronounce it the same way throughout the episodes, so I don’t know. Dorothy does some basic herbal remedies, and more people ask if she’s a witch.

The Wizard’s Guard gets another scene tracking Dorothy. This will probably amount to something eventually. Not today though, I assure you.

Presented so you can conceptualize the Wizard’s Guard.

The witches then get together to start the funeral rites for their sister, since magic isn’t outlawed for the day. The Witch of the West shows up late and high to the funeral, so based on high school hierarchy she’s supposed to be the cool one. Glinda is understandably pissed about this, what a square. A dance sequence happens, some spells are sucked out of people’s mouths, and the scene cuts back to SJS being sick.

The apothecary tries to poison Scarecrow, because apparently the Wizard’s Guard are pieces of shit. Dorothy force feeds him burnt up wood, which I’m pretty sure is not the same as activated charcoal, and he’s cured of his foaming at the mouth poisoning. They lock the door on the apothecary with a sword, then kick down Pip’s door to rescue him. He runs off with Jack.

Dorothy and Scarecrow hang out for some reason until the apothecary does crazy magic to heat up a sword, then blows up the door instead as if she was rehearsing a planned breach with her local SWAT team. She then proceeds to try and shove what I assume is more poison right into Dorothy’s mouth, while Dorothy acts like a toddler who doesn’t want to eat. SJS murders the apothecary. The scene drags on. Dorothy stops looking at him with “fuck me” eyes.

The show closes with Dorothy and Sexy Jesus Scarecrow walking down a road. SJS won’t stop screaming Knock Knock jokes at her, but she knows how stupid those are now and won’t take the bait.

“Knock knock” “Not today, Jesus”

The apothecary is shown twitching on the floor,  which I’m sure is building to the reveal that she’s a T-1000. Pip is revealed to be a girl…a revelation that is not that dramatic to anyone who was watching the episode up until that point, but somehow still makes zero sense.

I’m so excited to suffer through next week.


Images Courtesy of NBC, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Angeles Entertainment Group, and Warner Bros.

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Inhumans Muddles with Morals

Gabby

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“Somthing Inhuman This Way Comes..” is the 5th epsiode of Marvel’s The Inhumans. Things finally picked up last week, so let’s see if the show can keep it up.

Recap

Karnak and Jen reminisce about the night before. As they exit their tent, Reno shoots at them. Karnak blocks the bullet, but Jen gets hit. They run away, and hide in a ditch with Reno in pursuit. Reno receives a call and heads back to the pot farm to meet the caller.

Louise is driving while Medusa and Black Bolt cuddle in the backseat. Black Bolt asks Medusa about what happened to her hair. Reluctantly she opens up, but states it doesn’t change anything and that finding their family is more important. A banging is heard from the truck. Louise pulls over to let Locus out. Locus uses her powers to locate Karnak in the jungle. She makes a comment about the Royal Family’s behavior towards their people, and Medusa commands her to do her job. Louise objects to her treatment of Locus; Medusa replies that she was sent to kill them.

As they trek through the jungle, Locus’s communication device goes off and Medusa takes it from her. Maximus is on the other end. He lies to Medusa about Crystal’s locations. Black Bolt has Medusa tell Maximus that when they get back they will have words, and Maximus says he looks forward to the family reunion. Black Bolt then crushes the communication device, much to Louise’s dismay. Maximus summons Tibor.

On Dave’s farm, Audrey observes that Lockjaw is doing better. Revealed, Crystal is ready to find her family. Audrey protests, saying Lockjaw isn’t ready to run around. Crystal says that’s okay, they’ll just transport. Audrey doesn’t believe any of Crystal’s story until she and Dave are transported away.

At his lab, Declan performs an autopsy on Sakas (Matt Perfetuo), who died in the explosion caused by Mordis. Declan notes that he has a venom gland in his neck. Declan’s Assistant (Joseph Kingsley) looks to Auran, and wonders that her powers are.

Gordon wanders in the jungle tracking Karnak. In a flashback, Gorgon impulsively steals the Lunar Flag. Karnak tells him to put it back, because the humans will notice if it’s gone, which could jeopardize Attilan. In the present, Reno meets up with his boss, who asks to see Ted’s body. His boss then has him shot. He then commands some lackeys to take care of Karnak and Jen.

On Attilan, Maximus wants Tibor to choose the best Inhumans to go after the Royal Family. Tibor questions if this is forceful conscription, but Maximus tries to justify it by saying it’s to secure the peoples freedom, which must be earned.

Back in the Jungle, Karnak tells Jen that he must remove the bullet. Using his Inhuman strength he pushes the bullet from the back through the front. Karnak patches her up. Jen wants to call the police, but he thinks that’s a bad idea. Karnak wants to go back to camp to ambush Reno.

Declan and one of his assistants study Auran’s and Sakas’ DNA. His assistant worries that the Inhumans will turn on the humans. Declan states this is why it is important to understand them. Suddenly Auran’s body jolts. Declan thinks it’s just postmortem spasm, but then Auran sits up and begins to heal herself. Declan stares in awe. Auran then grabs Declan by the throat, ordering him to tell her where Black Bolt is. Declan’s assistant tries to attack Auran with a scalpel, but she ends up killing him with it.

Jen and Karnak arrive back at the pot farm. Karnak isn’t sure how to proceed because he can’t see a clear outcome. Jen remarks that doubt can be helpful. In a flashback Karnak states that he and Gorgon are polar opposites. He is rational, while Gorgon is impulsive. Gorgon asserts that at he is at least doing something, while Karnak just sits around. In the present, Karnak decides to take a chance, so he and Jen head into camp.

I don’t get paid enough for this.

Back on Attilan, Maximus tells Auran not to hurt Declan and not to tell him whom she is working for. Maximus tells her Declan’s research is important and to keep him safe. He then commands her to finish her mission and that he will be sending her help soon. Auran then contacts Mortis, who, with Flora (Krista Alvarez) is holding Sammy captive. Auran tells him to bring Sammy to her.

Karnak and Jen notice someone else has been at the camp. The lackeys arrive, and Karnak tells Jen to hide while he takes care on them. Across the island, Lockjaw, Crystal and Dave arrive at a secluded beach. Dave is amazed by how they’ve traveled all over the island in the blink of an eye. Crystal is frustrated that they can’t find her family. Dave tells her to let lose and not be afraid. Later that night, Karnak fights the lackeys, but is overpowered and captured.

I feel like this has happened before.

Elsewhere Locus uses her powers and says that they are close to Karnak. Louise wants to know how her powers work, but Locus can’t explain it. Medusa explains that Terragenesis decides all. Louise remarks that she doesn’t like that idea, and Locus mentions that before Terragenesis she wanted to be a healer. Louise doesn’t see why she can’t both, but Medusa objects, saying echolocation is Locus’s one true calling. Locus retaliates that this is why she choose Maximus, and brings up Medusa’s parents. Louise thinks it ironic that Medusa and Black Bolt were thrown out for not wanting to change the caste system, while her parents were. Medusa says the law in Attilan wasn’t perfect, but they try to do what’s right. Locus declares this is why she supports Maximus, because he will change things. Medusa points out that he forced Locus here.

Tibor gives Maximus a list of potential recruits, noting that many weren’t happy to be drafted. Maximus repeats that you have to earn your freedom, using himself as an example. Tibor warns Maximus that some might think he is only acting in his own interest, and not Attilan’s. Angered, Maximus orders him to leave.

Gorgon finds Karnak and Jen. Together the fight and escape, but don’t make it far because of Jen’s injury. They hear fighting and gunfire in the distance, then someone approaching. It is revealed to be Medusa and the others, who have just fought the drug dealers. They share a long awaited reunion, and Gorgon shows some interest in Louise. Jen decides that she’s going to call the police and suggest that they all disappear before they show up. Karnak doesn’t want her to leave, but Jen says this is the way things are sometimes, but she had a good time.

Just as Jen leaves, Locus falls over, divulging that she was fatally wounded in the fight. With her last breath, Locus pleads with Black Bolt to change and become the king they deserve. She then tells Medusa that Crystal is on the island. Medusa asks where, but Locus dies before she can say.

On Attilan, Tibor is surrounded by the Royal Guard. He believes they’re there to kill him for speaking out against Maximus, but actually they want his help to overthrow Maximus, calling him a false king.

Review

Similar to last week’s episode focusing on Medusa, this week’s episode focused on Karnak, who, like all the supporting characters, needed some development. The flashbacks with Karnak and Gorgon felt a bit repetitive, but it gave their relationship some longevity. When they are forced to think like the other in order to survive, it highlighted how much they have impacted each other. Plus, it was nice seeing Ken Leung get a chance in the spot light.

A bit of this feels undermined by Karnak’s relationship with Jen. Even if Jen states in the episode that they were just having fun, their interactions weren’t framed that way. I understand Jen’s character is meant to play into Karnak’s arc of becoming more impulsive, but it felt more that the narrative was suggesting she healed him with the power of sex, which is a terrible trope. Speaking of which, it seems Crystal and Dave’s relationship is headed in the same direction, with the exact same plot. Right down to romantic rendezvous on a beach, with a swim in the ocean. That’s just lazy writing.

The trouble with Jen, or any of the other human companions, (besides Louise) is that they aren’t well written, and do little to serve the actual plot besides to drop some words of wisdom and then disappear. Jen literally leaves this episode, which is honestly a better outcome than I thought she’d get. When it was first hinted that she would be Karnak’s love interest, I though she might get stuffed in the fridge.

While Karnak got his groove back, questions of morality were (finally) being discussed in the subplots. Locus, who, unfortunately, did get stuffed in the fridge, brings into question the effectiveness of Black Bolt and Medusa’s rule, stating her frustration for having her fate chosen for her. Louise gives us more insight into her character and others by questioning Medusa and Black Bolt. Medusa is proving to be more of a morally grey character by believing herself to be in the right. While it is interesting to see that Attilan has deeper issue with individuality within it’s system, this is a topic that should have been brought up sooner. It doesn’t help that this episode is nearly over by the time this matter is addressed and answered.

Locus states that she followed Maximus because he would change things, but then changes her own mind in the end by telling Black Bolt to become the king they deserve. What prompted this? Medusa says that Maximus forced Locus to come to Earth, which is trying to play off Maximus’s forced conscription plot, but that doesn’t make sense in the context of the scene. Locus was a part of the Royal Guard, and was just following orders when she came to Earth. Really there isn’t any logical reason for her change of heart besides the writers wanting to prop up Black Bolt. If there was any doubt in her mind about Maximus’s intentions, it should been set up sooner. In these circumstances, it was completely underserved.

Huh, I think he might be evil.

Further undercutting any moral nuance was Maximus’s plot on Attilan. Up to this point, Maximus has been a sympathetic villain. He did horrible things, but the audience understood his motivations. This episode eroded that by having Maximus develop a non-voluntary draft on the lower class Inhumans to find the Royal Family.

Now, this isn’t horrible character progression. However, combine Maximus’s plot combined with Locus’s sudden turn-around, and it felt more like the writers trying to manipulate the audience’s opinions. They’re basically saying ‘Hate Maximus because he doesn’t really care about the Inhuman people. Love Black Bolt, he truly cares.’ But we haven’t seen why Black Bolt is any better than Maximus yet, so the argument doesn’t hold up.

There’s the plot with Auran and Declan who continue to be puppets in Maximus’s schemes, but theres nothing new to add. However, it is becoming unnerving to watch Auran die in such brutal ways, only to come back to serve a man she has no clear motivations to care for. Auran, honey, you can do better.

So, once again, Inhumans continues to frustrate me. This episode posited some interesting questions and character development, but it all feels too-little-too-late. The season has passed the midway point, and as a result, these developments are all rushed. Maybe there should have been more episodes. Or maybe they should have hired a better showrunner.

Until next week, stay awesome.


Images courtesy of  Marvel/ABC Television Studios

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We’re All SAD: Broad City, “Abbi’s Mom”

Sarah

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Hello, dear Queens. This week on Broad City, Abbi’s mom comes to town and Ilana is sad, as well as SAD. As in, she’s very depressed, and it’s not just the winter.

Great decor though, as always.

We open on Abbi and Ilana making frantic preparations for Abbi’s mom’s visit. (Her name is Joanne, so we’ll go with that from now on). Joanne has always been what Abbi calls “conservative.” Abbi likes to keep it surface-level with her mom—light, fun. She plans a day of museum-ing, visiting Santa at Macy’s, and eating at Ilana’s new workplace, Sushi Mambeaux (apparently Sushi Mambo is a real place in NYC, and it looks exactly like the fictional version). The pair clean the apartment, make a fancy cheese plate and hang a garland.

While they go about prepping and Abbi is explaining the details of the day she has planned with Joanne, Ilana starts to flop over on the table. She doesn’t laugh at Abbi’s “thanks for cutting the cheese” joke and looks a little sick. She stumbles over the counter and switches on her SAD lamp. (SAD stands for Seasonal Affective Disorder, classified as seasonal sadness or depression mostly due to lack of sunlight). Ilana seems to fill her tank very quickly on this light and be back to normal. She insists that her depression is due solely to the winter (and fall, and late summer) weather/lack of light, and has nothing at all to do with the fact that she has steadily cut back on her antidepressants and now takes none. Abbi is a little worried.

When Joanne arrives, she reveals to Abbi that earlier in the year she found a benign lump in her breast, an experience that gave her some perspective on life. Abbi is taken aback and unhappy that her mother never told her this, but listens as Joanne goes on to say that what she really wants to do is have a wild night out with her daughter. (Which, okay). So before they head out to dinner, she dons Abbi’s iconic blue dress of multi-episode fame, which just sets things up perfectly.

You’re going to become me someday.

At the restauranterie, RuPaul has declared Spring Cleaning night. This means whoever gets the most tips gets everyone else’s tips too, and whoever gets the least amount of tips gets fired. So, there’s that.

Ilana seems okay at the top of her shift, and gleefully seats Abbi and Joanne. But the sad/SAD is getting stronger, and she needs to sneak into the storage room to juice herself up on light again. Soon the light isn’t enough, and she implores Abbi, from a fetal position on the floor, to find a higher-wattage bulb. Abbi has the idea to reflect the light off of a sheet of tinfoil. As the night progresses, Ilana has lined the entire storage room in sheets of tinfoil and is bathing in this extreme light, with ever-weakening results. Between stints in the light-room, she’s unable to upsell her customers or be cheery. She sits at her customers’ tables and lays her head down, claiming that life is meaningless.

Our restauranterie only has a B food rating.

At first, this approach to a depression storyline rubbed me the wrong way. It’s utterly ridiculous (but that’s what Broad City is) and seemed belittling to the experience of depression. But the more I think about it, the more I actually think it’s a decent commentary on the stigma associated with medication (Ilana didn’t want to take it anymore) and the drive to be happy all the time (hence the extreme light dependence). In the end, Ilana goes back on her meds, and specifically calls out the futility of shame and stigma around antidepressants.

ANYWAY. Back in the restauranterie, Joanne has been taking shots and drinking martinis while confessing all kinds of things to Abbi. She’s only had sex with 3 men (as opposed to Abbi’s 32), hasn’t had hard liquor since the night she got pregnant with Abbi, and generally wishes she had “fucked up more.” While Abbi is horrified, she’s also empathetic and a little amused, so she takes her mom outside and they smoke some weed together. Back inside, Abbi tries to help Ilana again with the Power Light, but they blow a fuse and the power cuts out. When it comes back on, they find Joanne standing on the table, shouting that her daughter fucked 32 guys, before falling into the indoor koi pond and heading outside to make out with Owen the terrible rich waiter.

Meanwhile, Ilana tells RuPaul to take all of her tips and fire her, but she can do no wrong with him. He says her depression is “making his dick a little hard” and that he hopes she never gets better. YIKES. Another joke that didn’t land with me was when RuPaul’s child Parker, who has been working at this restauranterie without revealing their true identity, confronts RuPaul about his parenthood. RuPaul fires Parker, cackling as he claims he doesn’t work with family.

The episode ends on a high note, though, as Abbi and Ilana take Joanne shopping at a sex shop. They seem like they’re at home there. When Joanne decides she wants to get a Shinjo, there’s a very funny callback to season 2 when Abbi put Jeremy’s Shinjo in the dishwasher. Hand wash only, mom.

Honestly I’m just really attracted to Ilana in this shot.

Overall, I give this episode 3/5 sake-rosé shots. Tune in next week for the recap of “Witches.” I have no idea what it’s about, but the title has me pretty psyched!


Images Courtesy of Comedy Central

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SKAM Is Getting A US Version and That’s Bittersweet

Matthew

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If you’ve been around the fandom circles on social media in the past year, then you may have heard about this Norwegian TV show called SKAM that people, including me, started obsessing about all of a sudden. This happened mostly because of the show’s third season which aired from September to December/2016 and featured the romantic development between Isak Valtersen and Even Bech Næsheim.

Now, as per Deadline, the show has been officially greenlit for an American version after talks happening for a very long time. As a fan of the show, I can’t help but feel weirded out about this idea and it’s not entirely a matter of “I liked it before it was cool”.

You see, SKAM was a very unique show. For starters, each season was focused on one character and the episodes were a mesh of clips that were uploaded throughout the week to NRK’s website (the channel that produced the show). Not only that, but each clip was dated and timed in a way that, if the events of the clip would go down at 3 pm on a Tuesday, then that’s when NRK would upload it.

Therefore, the show was so well scheduled that it included birthdays, holidays, the Syrian refugee situation from last year, and even this year’s Ramadan. Plus, the page on NRK also included instant messaging with official Apple/Facebook software and Instagram posts from the characters. All of this created an immersive atmosphere that had people eagerly waiting for any sort of update.

I should also add that NRK did not provide English subtitles. Therefore, any viewer who did not know Norwegian had to wait for a non-official translation from some incredibly kind Norwegian folks who uploaded the clips with English subtitles or provided translations online — we even became known as the Google Drive Fandom, by the way, and SKAM won a few audience awards/pools like E!Online and Gullruten 2017 (Norwegian Oscar equivalent) from our votes. Sadly, due to its international fanbase, NRK had to geoblock the clips because of their local contract with music companies as the show embraced a myriad of current songs from Beyoncé to Nas.

Finally, SKAM was even more unique in how its teenage characters were also portrayed by teenage actors. The show was aimed at younger people, but it had no censoring of curse words. The actual high school that the actors attended served as their character’s school. The actors, allegedly, were paid very low fees which served as a testament to the show’s low budget and the actors’ love for their job. The low budget is also remarkable when you see how beautiful the cinematography is and much of that is thanks to the director, writer, and showrunner Julie Andem.

Now, why did I feel the need to write all this? Well, because that’s what makes this American adaptation worrisome. As much as there has been a push to hire age-appropriate actors (like in Riverdale, Power Rangers, and Marvel’s Runways, for example), it’s hard to have complete faith as things are right now. Facebook Watch being the producer is also a mixed bag of emotions because you wanna believe that newcomers to the broadcasting business can do good (such as Hulu’s work with The Handmaid’s Tale), but then again, we don’t have a lot to go on in terms of trust.  And then there’s the fact that adapting this show is sort of moot when SKAM is perfect on its own, even if it is not accessible to more audiences.

Perhaps the way to our hearts is knowing that the original showrunner, Julie Andem, is also going to be the showrunner to the US version, but then it’s impossible not to ask yourself: if you are going to do this, then why did you have to end SKAM so soon? Many fans strongly speculated that, due to its “One Focus Character Per Season” format, we would get at least six seasons in order to properly tell the story of each main character. Instead, after the instant hit that season 3 became, the very first promo for season four already told us that it would be the last season, pulling the rug from under new and old fans alike. Four seasons were not enough: characters like Even, Vilde, and Jonas each deserved their own time to shine with their own spotlight.

Don’t get me wrong though: as much as some fans rightfully complained about some issues with season four, I still believe that SKAM ended beautifully… and yet way too soon. Like, guys, I actually learned Norwegian through online courses because of this show. I got in touch with an entirely new culture just by watching it. I wholeheartedly wish it was still airing so I could spend more time with these characters I loved.

I can’t see the future, but I am not too confident that SKAM US will be able to fill the void left in me by SKAM’s ending. There were a lot of important stories yet to be told and the show always told important stories: from learning to grow as a young woman independently, loving someone who can be bad for you, gaslighting sexual assault, coming out of the closet and accepting your sexuality, mental illness, to the struggles of a young hijabi woman in a faithless society.

SKAM was this huge deal for a lot of people and that’s why it’s bittersweet to see something so precious to you become distorted for a different audience when there’s perfection already made. We, the fans, are holding our breath to see if this will pay off. Until then, I guess rewatching Isak falling in love with Even or Sana Bakkoush reconnecting with her friends never gets old.


Images Courtesy of NRK

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